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Audio is a hobby with a lot of different ways to have fun. You can thrill yourself on sonic artifacts like soundstaging, imaging and the like in well recorded music. This was popularized in Harry Pearson's magazine The Absolute Sound and his lingo and approach continue to be the dominant concept for formally published audio reviews. You can also enter into the shadowy underground audio world of exotic single-ended triode (SET) amplifiers, highly sensitive loudspeakers while spinning LPs on classic vinyl decks that were part of Art Dudley's beat in Listener. If you are a hands-on sort of cat, you can enter the world of do-it-yourself (DIY) audio and fabricate your own amplifiers, speakers or just about anything else just as the folks who read Sound Practices liked to do. Some hobbyists are thrilled most by bringing vintage HiFi rigs back to life to enjoy the sounds of yesteryear. Other audio buffs are creating cool small high-performance HiFi rigs around iPods -- Podophiles -- so they can take their music from home to car to anywhere they happen to venture. All of these are perfectly valid approaches to enjoying music in this great hobby we call audio.

Yet there is one group who has had very little attention paid to them in the HiFi press. This is a situation I intend to remedy to the extent I can. I refer to this group as The Music Lovers. The music lovers are a little bit different in their priorities than most HiFi nuts in the other audio segments. For one, they tend to spend much more money on software than hardware. They mostly want HiFi equipment that flatters all music regardless of how well it is recorded. After all, there's lots of great music that isn't recorded all that great. The music lovers tend not to be gear heads or subscribe to audio magazines. Once they find a system that imbues life into the music they love, they stay with it longer than other audio hobbyists. After assembling a satisfying system, music lovers quickly exit the equipment merry-go-round and focus on building their music collection. They also tend to like reliable "buy-it-and-forget-it" gear that doesn't require a lot of care and feeding to keep running. After all, their goal is to listen to music and not to play with their knobs - um, gear.

I've also noticed how most music lovers tend to prefer simpler HiFi rigs over more complex ones. It's not unusual to find an integrated amplifier at the heart of a music lover's stereo [above].] Music lovers often want speakers just to the warm side of neutral with a liquid presentation, lots of tone color and a musical soul. One of the trends I see music lovers getting interested in is USB DACs [below]. They load all their music to their computer's hard drives and run the digits through a USB DAC into their HiFi rig. That way they can also load it onto their iPods for use in their cars, office systems or anywhere else life might take them. Checked out Podcasts lately? There's lots of cool stuff to listen to there, too. I've also noticed that music lovers are interested in multi-format digital sources that play DVD. There are lots of great concert performances on DVDs and they enjoy watching the musicians as much as listening to the music.

Music lovers tend to be interested in whatever format they can get the most music on. Those with big vinyl collections gathered over the years tend to have a soft spot for a turntable but they also can't live without digital because there's so much new music available only in that format. Almost without exception, music lovers are interested in FM tuners so they can listen to a wide variety of -- free -- music.

Music lovers tend to integrate their HiFis into their main living environment instead of having dedicated listening rooms. They listen to music while they cook, while they wash dishes, while they pay the bills and while they write silly audio articles.

Music lovers know that a musical and forgiving HiFi means you don't have to buy an exotically mastered disc to get your musical Jones fulfilled. In fact, why would you do that when you can buy several regular discs for the same price? More discs equals more music to the music lover.

Very few audio hacks really write about audio gear with the music lovers in mind. Oh, we all say we do but we really don't. That's about to change. As a self-appointed music lovers' ambassador at 6moons, I am going to expend serious efforts on searching out systems and equipment of exceptional musical merit and functional simplicity specifically with the music lovers in mind.

As I search out that rare gear that serves the music lovers, I will endeavor whenever possible to report on it as a complete system. Not only that but 6moons readers get to participate in The Music Lovers Series of articles I am kicking off. "How do I do that?", you ask. In two ways: first, by letting me know about equipment of particular merit to share with other readers so I can see if it is possible to make arrangements for a review. Secondly, you can help by lobbying the manufacturers about a product of particular merit you want to see me review in this series. Not all manufacturers or importers want to release equipment for review because it's a two-
edged sword: a good review can accelerate commercial success, a bad one can cause disaster. Some prefer to play it safe. However, when they hear from potential or existing customers -- that's you -- they tend to perk up and pay attention. They know that for every person that bothered to contact them, there are a hundreds of others that didn't. You have the clout to make things happen. I also intend to only publish reviews on equipment that I can recommend as a sound purchase. If a piece of gear sucks, I'm not wasting my time writing it up.

Music lovers, audio hobbyists, dealers or manufacturers alike are free to contact me here at the moons if you think that you have a particular 'magic' combination of gear to recommend to the music lovers among us. There are a few things that you should keep in mind to be part of series: I prefer recommendations for complete systems whenever possible, but if you know of a single piece of gear with particular merit I still want to hear from you. Any price range from the most humble to the most expensive will be considered for inclusion. Anything from the mundane to the exotic will be considered for inclusion.

To be accepted for consideration, equipment must be tolerant of all levels of recording quality. The equipment must serve the music, not the music the equipment. It must possess that elusive and controversial element called musicality which we may not be able to define but recognize when we hear it. It should allow us to experience the full glory of the music's beat, rhythm, melody and mood in such a way that we get lost in the music. Remember that the music lovers are not necessarily about sound. It's about feeling and getting lost in the music. If the gear can do both music and sound with equal prowess, so much the better. Also, I don't care what it measures like because music lovers don't. I do care that it's reliable, supported with superb customer service by someone who will stand behind the music lover for the long haul.

To kick off the series, expect to see articles featuring the new hand-crafted Leben CS600 integrated amplifier from Japan, the hand-crafted Living Voice loudspeakers from the UK and a few other surprises I'm not going to tell you about just yet. Let me tell you this though: We are in for some real fun. Watch this space!